The intricate ornament on this scallop-shaped box reflects the late Elizabethan taste for Antwerp Mannerism; indeed, many specialized workers active in London’s goldsmiths’ trade came from the Spanish Netherlands. Although shell-shaped boxes such as this one are sometimes referred to as spice boxes, according to early seventeenth-century inventories, they were used for serving sugar, an expensive delicacy. The English often sweetened their wine with sugar or honey, a habit that persisted through the seventeenth century.
Marking:  Leopard's head (London assay office mark);  Lion passant (English quality mark for sterling);  Gothic E in pointed shield (date mark for 1602-03);  WR with two arcs below in shaped shield (maker's mark).
Location of marks: - inside on bottom and inside cover near hinge.
Marks greatly disfigured.
[ S. J. Shrubsole ; to Irwin Untermyer, March 25, 1968 ] ; Irwin Untermyer (in 1968; to MMA)
Artist: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800)Date: 1766Medium: Case: gold with diamonds and paste jewels set in silver, pearls; Dial: while enamel; Movement: partly gilded brass and steel, wheel balance and cock of silver set with paste jewelsAccession: 1982.60.137On view in:Gallery 540